Both the men’s and women’s fencing teams look to bond more as a team and hope it brings success on the mat.
Senior Dan Shiff and junior Laura Paragano, who both compete in the Foil Division, are the respective captains for the men’s and women’s squad. And for both, team unity is an important aspect for success on the mat.
Paragano, a Daily Pennsylvanian opinion artist, stressed the group rather than the individual.
“As a captain, my main goal is to increase the collectivity between fencers of the team, and mostly making it a team of fencers rather than a team of individuals.”
With the addition of 16 freshmen on both squads, Shiff also hopes to translate the message of unity.
“I want to bond more as a team,” Shiff said. “Having a close team is really important for succeeding. If a fencer has their team behind them really supporting them loud, it kind of motivates them to play harder.”
Shiff and his teammates hope this greater team chemistry will lead to success on the mat and ultimately to their final goal.
“Last year we placed second in the Ivies for the men’s and third for the women’s. This year we are going to try our best to win the Ivy League Championship,” coach Andy Ma said.
Fortunately for Ma, he returns four All-Americans in juniors Alex Simmons and Vidur Kapur, along with sophomore Evan Prochniak and Dominika Franciszkowicz.
In terms of goals on the competition side, both captains and Ma noted the main objective of winning an Ivy League championship.
“We made third last year in the Ivies, so our main goal is to defeat Columbia or Princeton to win the Ivies. I think we didn’t believe in ourselves last year as a team collectively, and this year, if we all work together, there is no way we will lose to them,” Paragano said.
The Quakers competed in their first tournament last weekend at Temple. The men’s squad ended with two top five finishes.
Freshman Joseph Isaac, who fenced for the first time in his collegiate career, went 11-1 in the preliminaries and reached the final four in epee, where he took third place. Fellow classmate and epeeist Clifford Fishler also participated, finishing 20th. Sophomore Sinatrio Raharjo opened the preliminaries with an 8-0 record, before concluding his day in fifth.
The women’s team was highlighted by senior Diana Ark. Ark was Penn’s top finisher, going 9-1 in the preliminary rounds and taking seventh out of 76 participants in epee.
“I think we have a very good team and we have the potential to be great. We have a lot of people on the team willing to work hard, and if everyone does their job, the victories will come,” Shiff said.
The Quakers will be able to put that hard work to the test when they compete this weekend in the first major tournament of the season in College Park, Pa., at the Penn State Open.
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